(TheMadIsraeli returns with another round-up of music from yesteryear that’s been keeping him company lately. Volume 1 can be found here. As will become obvious, the post’s title is tongue-in-cheek.)
Here we are with this again. I’m feeling this idea a lot, I have to admit. Getting right to it…
Exodus – Tempo Of The Damned
I honestly believe at the end of the day this is Exodus’ best Souza-era record. It has punch, attitude, mean-as-fuck riffs, and it feels like there’s a higher degree of precision here. I know people enjoyed the wild, free-spirited nature of their earlier albums, but I do feel like the band mastered their craft here.
It also stands as a pretty solid reminder that out of all the more popular American thrash bands, Exodus are the absolute KINGS of the mid-paced stomp. “Sealed with a Fist” is the epitomizing example, raunchy and in your face while being infectious and full of that piss and vinegar thrash captures so well.
I also think Souza really stands out as a thrash vocalist. His voice just has this rancid bitterness to it that somehow cuts like a knife on top of Gary Holt’s signature meat-hook riffing. This album is also the last of “classic” style Exodus rooted in ’80s convention before the band would move on to the more “epic” and extreme thrash of the Rob Dukes output, of which I’m in the minority of preferring.
Machine Head – The More Things Change…
I was inspired to listen to Machine Head again after Robb Flynn’s response to the Phil Anselmo white power fiasco, and I actually decided to revisit their entire discography. The More Things Change… is one of the best metallic hardcore albums I’ve ever heard, and that is the designation for Machine Head at this point in their career I’m going to stick with.
Yes, there’s some nü-metal bounce of their middle period creeping in already, but it ends up helping the bulldozer grooves more than it hurts the music at this point. I love the vibe of this album, the mix, and the fucking riffs as simple as they are. There’s something about songs like “Take My Scars” that just exudes primal pit violence at its best.
I do admit, the faster moments on this album are still the better ones, like the frantic kinetic impact of “Struck a Nerve”, but I love the record overall.
I’m actually finding myself to enjoy all Machine Head, even the nü-metal era.
Arsafes – Revolt
Arsafes is the mastermind behind Indian-themed death metal band Kartikeya, but he’s a man of many musical faces and always has his fingers in more than one pie. He’s got his own pie though, which he’s already given one slice of to the public in the form of Ratocracy.
Revolt was definitely in my top five albums of 2015 and I would’ve reviewed it if my plans hadn’t fallen through. The plan was to review the new Above The Earth and Kartikeya records alongside this one in a triple review. Kartikeya’s Samudra has been indefinitely delayed due to reasons I can’t discuss, so when that happened, I admit I was rather demotivated from undertaking the idea.
It would be a shame if you didn’t hear this album. Arsafes takes elements of death metal, thrash metal, industrial, nü-metal, and even pop to create a pretty enriching experience that’s heavy, catchy, and engrossing all at the same time. I love everything about this album back to front.
Killswitch Engage – As Daylight Dies
A rather controversial choice for some. As Daylight Dies is the best of the Howard Jones era of Killswitch, beyond doubt. I like SOME of The End of Heartache, but I also think it suffers from the fact that the songs on it all feel like they were written with Jesse Leech in mind. This album accommodates the strengths of Howard Jone’s vocal capabilities much better, going for a riffier, tighter, more emotive edge than The End of Heartache.
“Daylight Dies” is one of the band’s best opening songs, with a classic main riff and a terrific chorus. “For You” has a killer death metal riff, driving it out of the ordinary for KSE’s modus operandi, with one of my favorite chorus riffs they’ve ever written, building in technicality every go around. “Desperate Times” is a fantastic, borderline doomy song the likes of which the band hasn’t ever revisited, and “Reject Yourself” is what it sounds like when they attempt full-on melodic death metal.
Fantastic album, and a reminder honestly that despite how you may feel about their success, it is well-earned despite their becoming a fad band.
Byzantine – Self-Titled
One of the greatest metal bands of all time, man. I’ve been revisiting the whole discography, but after going back through it all, this one still stands out quite a bit. My review still says everything I have to say. This album is flawless, not a single second is wasted, not a single vocal line or rhythm is lacking, not a single riff isn’t pure molten steel being poured down your throat.
I fucking love this band, this album, and their entire discography. I think the thing this one has over the band’s last record To Release Is To Resolve is the comeback energy, and that’s why it’s sitting with me so well still.
Textures, Aborted, and Hacktivist (yeah blah blah) reviews are coming. See you then.